President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday absolved himself of complicity in the deposition of former Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II by the Kano State government.
Buhari said he “has no involvement whatsoever in the dethronement of HRH Muhammadu Sanusi II from the position of Emir of Kano,” stressing: “All such insinuations are untrue, malicious and politically motivated.”
The president’s reaction came in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu.
It reads: “The president does not have a history of intervening in the affairs of any state in the country, unless the issue at hand is of national consequence. On such matters, which impinge on national security, he has a duty of involvement as the law stipulates.
“As outlined in the constitution, the appointment or removal of emirs and other traditional leaders is strictly within the jurisdiction of state governments. It is unfair and disingenuous of opposition politicians to try to link the situation in Kano State to the Federal Government and the Nigerian president.
“Although a retired General and former Military Head of State, President Buhari clearly understands that under the current democratic dispensation, the government at the centre cannot read instructions or twist the arms of all or any of the 36 state governments making up the federation. They all have their powers specified under the constitution.”
The president commended the Kano residents for staying calm and expressed hope that the people would continue to experience progress irrespective of who occupies the throne.
Former Kano State Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, however, condemned the deposition, saying it was unconstitutional. He also alleged that Buhari was aware of the decision to remove the former emir but remained silent.
Kwankwaso, who spoke to the BBC Hausa Service monitored in Kaduna, said: “First of all, it was a very sad day in Kano, Nigeria and the world because His Highness Emir Sanusi is a global citizen. From what we’ve seen and from what we’ve heard, no responsible government will take that kind of decision taken by the Kano State government.
“But importantly, Section 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic states that even if you despise a person, you should allow him to choose where to stay. Considering remarks made by those close to Mr. President that he does not interfere in misunderstandings, that he keeps mute whenever there are such conflicts…we, especially in Kano, look at this attitude of Mr. President differently.
“Where he was supposed to intervene, he never did and where he was not supposed to intervene, you find him intervening. Here, government officials are saying that they were instructed to depose Emir Sanusi.”
Also, a constitutional lawyer, Mr. Kayode Ajulo, said the banishment of Sanusi was unconstitutional.
He said, by the action, Sanusi had been unduly and wrongfully denied his constitutional rights to respect for the dignity of his person; the right to assemble freely and associate with other persons including the people of Kano Emirate; and the right to move freely throughout Nigeria and reside in any part.
According to him, while the governor has the constitutional power to remove the emir, it must be done “within the circumference of the law and due process must be followed.”
This came as Kano State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Ibrahim Mukhtar yesterday said the state government was not responsible for Sanusi’s detention and banishment.